The Importance of Sleep As A Diabetic

          We have all heard that a person needs 8 hours of sleep a night in order to get the full amount of rest required by the body. As a diabetic we require a bit more rest to be able to function. If we don’t get enough rest, it is more likely for us to get sick with viral infections because our immune system may not be able to fight it off as well as we could if we had gotten enough rest. Here are several things we can do to try to help get a better night’s sleep as diabetics.

          Trying to keep the blood sugars from going to the extreme on either the high or low side allows you to get more rest from staying up to test and give corrections, or not having to check, eat something stay awake check again and repeat the process if the numbers are not up. Also alarms with CGM’s can interrupt a lot of Type 1 sleep. Leaving one feeling groggy and zombie like the next day. One solution is changing the alarm settings for the hours while you sleep. Like if you have the alarm sounding when you are at 80mg/dL change it to 70m/dL or the high setting from 250mg/dL to 280mg/dL. When I am heading to bed, I try to have my blood sugar at 150mg/dL or above before I go to sleep just so I know I won’t go low during the night. Highs are a bit trickier but a good preventative to this is just to eat dinner anywhere from 5-7 P.M. Because if you eat later then you will have less time for your body to process the food before you go to bed. Lows are quicker to treat than highs so if you eat earlier then go low when you go to bed just eat a snack with protein before bed to hold you till morning. Highs and extreme highs can take hours or even all night to correct. It can be awfully exhausting, especially when you have work or school, or anything planned for the next day.

          Something else to consider to obtain heathier sleep habits is making a digital curfew time. This can be tricky now that a lot of diabetics use their smart phones as their CGM’s data receiver. However, it has been proven that our bodies fall asleep faster and easier if in the few hours before we go to bed, we don’t look at any screens or televisions. Even making your bedroom an electronic free zone can be healthier for your overall sleep habits. Our bodies get used to certain rhythms called our circadian rhythms. Any blue light or missing sleep can throw off these rhythms making it harder to go to sleep the next day. After a while our bodies get used to waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. If we don’t get the amount of sleep our body needs, we may end up being so tired our body takes it when we can get it.

          Regularly exercising can make our bodies tired enough to actually fall asleep when we lay down rather than staying up thinking about everything that is troubling us. Exercising 3-4 times a week will help the body get enough rest but not so exhausted where you don’t feel like doing anything. I have found another trick that helps me is journaling about whatever is stressing me out. It gets my thoughts out and gives my mind some peace to where my mind feels like it can shut off at night. I also try not to do any stressful work after 8 o’clock P.M. just to give my mind some down time to destress. I like to watch movies at night to unwind but I also like to read and to craft things. It gives me an outlet to unwind my stressful day. Music is also a good soother.

          My favorite trick to help me calm down and get more rest is taking a hot bath or shower after a long day. The hot water helps loosen tight muscles and wash away the stress from that day. It’s also nice because no one talks to you when you’re in the shower usually and even the essential oils and aroma therapy soaps can be a real treat that helps relax the mind and body. Remember to take care of your body and your body will take care of you.

By: Miranda Montgomery (Type 1 diabetic for 20+ years) Admin for Type 1 Diabetes Support Group on Facebook with 13.5 K members